James Packer's mansion smashes Sydney records with $61m sale

SYDNEY - Australian billionaire James Packer has sold his six-floor Sydney mansion for at least A$60 million (S$60.8 million), media reported on Thursday, toppling previous residential real estate records .

Packer, an owner of Australia's biggest casino firm by market value, Crown Resorts Ltd, parted with the Sydney estate for as much as A$70 million, Fairfax Media reported. Other reports put the sale price at A$60 million.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the sale price.

Regardless, the deal shatters the previous national record of A$57.5 million set in 2009 for a waterfront mansion in Perth and is head and shoulders above Sydney's previous best, set at a mere A$52 million in 2013 by Chinese businessman Wang Zhijun.

The buyer, Chinese-Australian billionaire Chau Chak Wing, is well known for funding a Frank Gehry-designed building at Sydney's University of Technology, referred to affectionately by locals as the "Paper Bag." Outlandish property prices make daily headlines in Sydney, where home price growth is well into the double digits, fed by record low interest rates, a rapidly rising population, chronic undersupply, a tax system that pampers property investors and a stream of Asian money.

The harbour city earlier this month jumped from the tenth to the third spot on Knight Frank's Prime Global Cities Index, which tracks luxury residential property price movements across 35 cities.

Second-city Melbourne jumped into the index's number seven slot, up from eleven in the previous quarter.

The federal government has come under pressure to ease speculative demand by tempering a tax break that favours wealthy property investors, but conservative Prime Minster Tony Abbott has ruled out any changes.

Instead, lawmakers are holding public hearings to explore how all Australians can have a "fair chance" to own a home.